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Each quarter we do our best to provide you with an update on any Smilers related information, news snippets and anything else we think you might be interested in!  Full details of all new issues will appear under the New Issues menu option.

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Q2 2018 

  • Russian Arctic Convoy Museum

    I have been collecting Smilers sheets and covers pretty much from the start and through this website and my catalogue I have made come into contact with many  interesting and helpful people who have helped me expand my knowledge of these issues, which in turn has allowed me to share this knowledge on these pages.  

    About a month ago I received an e-mail from John Embrey querying whether I had come across the following Smilers Cover/stamp which had apparently been issued some six years earlier!  I confess I had not.

    Through John I was able to track down the producer of the cover who kindly provided the following relating to this cover.

    ".... I did a small batch of Smilers using the RACM logo at the tail end of 2012 which were used in conjunction with the Merchant Navy issue in September 2013 and on a few covers related to the Museum's Convoy week in the May of that year. If I recall correctly, I think I did four or five of the sheets of 20 "Smilers from Scotland" (i.e. around 100 stamps), the majority of which went up to the RACM. I used 16 of the stamps on various covers for myself / the Museum, and I have a partial sheet of 4 stamps left. 

    As for available covers, I have one left from 6 May 2013 (first day of the convoy week) using the interchangeable date hand-stamp I did for the museum, and one using the Buckingham Covers hand-stamp for the Merchant navy issue on 19 September."

    Sadly no full sheets of these stamps/labels remain but I have managed to obtain a partial sheet from the original source from which I have recreated an image of what this sheet would have looked like. (14/06)


  • Queensman Lodge VC Recipients - Smilers Sheet and Cover

    John Chapman Associates (formerly part of the Bletchley Park Post Office) has produced a limited edition themed smilers sheet and souvenir cover on behalf of the the Queensman Lodge to mark the initiation of Johnson Beharry. V.C. PWRR and Daniel Keighran, V.C., RAR into the Queensman Lodge 2694 on the 18th May 2018 held at Grand Temple at Freemason's Hall, London and the Grand Connaught Rooms.



    Souvenir Cover

    The Smilers sheet and cover are currently available from John Chapman with all profits from the sale of the sheet and cover going directly to the Queensman Lodge Charity foundation. 

    I understand from John that the sheet and cover are one of a number planned over the next 6-12 months featuring differing designs and Royal Mail stamps around a similar theme.  John has kindly provided some early designs of what the covers will look like which I thought might be of interest to our readers. 



    If you would like to purchase any of these covers or Smiler sheet please e-mail John Chapman by clicking the link provided. (14/06)

  • 50th Anniversary of Dad's Army Generic Sheet

    Dad's Army is a BBC television sitcom about the antics of a British Home Guard unit during the Second World War in the fictional seaside town of Walmington-on-Sea. It was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and broadcast on the BBC from 1968 to 1977. The sitcom ran for nine series and 80 episodes in total, and there was also a radio version based on the television scripts as well as a feature film. On 26th June 2018 Royal Mail will be marking the 50th anniversary of this enduring and hugely popular sitcom with an issue of special stamps, including a generic stamp sheet, presentation pack and retail stamp booklet. 


    In addition to containing five Corporal Jones and five Captain Mainwaring 1st Class Stamps, the Generic Sheet includes labels bearing stills of some of the most iconic scenes from the Dad’s Army series including those from the classic episodes ‘The Deadly Attachment’ (‘Don’t tell him, Pike’), ‘Never Too Old’, ‘Sgt Wilson’s Little Secret’ and ‘The Man and the Hour’. Details of the programmes from which the scenes are derived are cited on the labels and are set out below (top left to bottom right). The generic sheet is printed in litho in self-adhesive format unlike the stamp set, which is water activated gum. 

    The two self-adhesive stamps will also be available in retail booklets of two special stamps and 4 x 1st class Machins but unlike the generic sheet, the retail booklet will be printed in gravure, meaning that the generic sheet will be the only source of litho printed self-adhesive stamps.

    Dad’s Army is one of a handful of TV comedies that fully deserves its classic status. The show focuses on a Home Guard platoon commanded by pompous bank manager Captain Mainwaring and assisted by his mild-mannered chief clerk, Sergeant Wilson. This motley band of men provide Walmington-on-Sea’s last line of defence against the seemingly imminent Nazi invasion. Drawn from their own wartime memories, writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft never denigrated the patriotism or bravery of the characters but managed to make us laugh at the results of their often haphazard antics. The series was based partly on Perry’s experiences in the Local Defence Volunteers at the age of 17 during the Second World War. His mother didn’t like him being out at night, which inspired the character of Pike. In its 1970s heyday the show attracted more than 18 million viewers, becoming one of the most watched television programmes. (26/05)

  • Gibraltar Post - Royal Wedding Commemorative Sheet 

    They say great mind think alike, well it looks like Gibraltar and Jersey have been exchanging ideas - no sooner had we discovered the new commemorative sheet planned by Jersey Post, see article below, then we discovered this sheet in a circular e-mail that  almost went unnoticed!

    The Gibraltar Post Limited Edition commemorative sheet (500) commemorates the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle but goes one better than Jersey in using images from the couples happy day.

    Both sheets were produced using their respective personalised stamp sheet process taking a basic sheet of printed stamps and adding the label and background images, much the same process that I advocated Royal Mail adopt last year.  I think this confirms that Royal Mail are not great at talking to, or learning from others!  

    We will of course be stocking this sheet and an initial e-mail to me in the first instance will be suffice to secure this delightful sheet, priced at £25.00. (19/05)

  • Jersey Post - Royal Wedding Commemorative Sheet and Cover 

    Jersey Post will issue a limited edition Commemorative Stamp Sheet and Cover to mark the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Maghan Markle on 19 May 2018.  I have these commemorative sheets on order and can supply the commemorative sheet for £25.00 including post & packing.  As usual, an e-mail to me in the first instance will be suffice to secure one of these colourful and well designed sheets. (18/05)

  • Benham's Business sheet on the way! 

    I have just received a message from Benham that their long awaited Platinum Royal Wedding business sheet, due out last December, has finally materialised and should be with us shortly. 

    Also confirmed is the Centenary of the RAF business sheet which will follow "at a later date" i.e. no forward issue date set as of today.  

    Also appearing on their website in recent weeks are two new business sheets - probably their last as the business customised stamp sheet product has now been withdrawn by Royal Mail.  The two new sheets are The Royal Wedding of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle and a WW1 Centenary sheet - War on Land.

    The Royal Wedding sheet celebrates the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel, Windsor on 19 May 2018.

    The sheet comprises ten 2010 Business and Consumer Smilers Crown Seal 1st class NVI definitives with labels depicting the happy couple together with images of St George's Chapel Windsor and Windsor Castle itself. Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle are depicted in the sheet margins against the background of The Moat Garden, Windsor Castle. Issued in a numbered limited edition of 2018 sheets.

    The War on Land sheet is an "...impressive WWI customised sheet (which) focuses on War on Land.  

    Featuring on the sheet are two significant personnel during the War; Marshal Ferdinand Foch, a French General who served as Supreme Allied Commander, and Field Marshal Douglas Haig, a senior Officer of the British Army who commanded British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front from 1915. The ten definitives are joined by individual labels that mark signifcant locations and battles during WWI, including Somme and Passchendaele. Issued in a numbered limited edition of just 500, this sheet will grace the collection of those for whom Britain's military history is of interest." (16/05)

  • Re-printed Universal Mail Strips with 2018 date codes 

    Universal Mail are licensed to produce personalised stamp strips intended to be used on international postcards up to 10g. They are available from a variety of tourist attractions up and down the country. Sixteen re-printed strips with new date codes (01/18) have recently come to light and will be shortly be included in an update to my collectors guide featuring these personalised stamp strips. The current edition can be downloaded by clicking on this link.

    The re-printed strips are as follows:

    • UK0001 – London Day 
    • UK0002 – London Night
    • UK0003 – London Icons
    • UK0020 - Scotland 
    • UK0023 – Northern Ireland 
    • UK0040 - Oxford 
    • UK0041 - Sussex 
    • UK0046 - Bath 
    • UK0051 - Cambridge 
    • UK0053 – North West England 
    • UK0057 – Animals of Scotland
    • UK0058 – Scottish Icons 
    • UK0061 - Glasgow 
    • UK0064 – North Wales Attractions  
    • UK0119 - Edinburgh 
    • UK0152 - Windsor 

    As usual I have a few complete sets of the above 16 strips available for immediate dispatch priced at £130 incl. p+p. Individually they are priced at £8 + £2 p+p (UK) and £8 + £3 p+p (Overseas). Please send me an e-mail in the first instance if you would like to reserve a set. (15/05).

  • 150th Anniversary of the TUC 

    Royal Mail have announced a new Commemorative Sheet due out on 1st June 2018 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Trades Union Congress.

    The first TUC meeting was held in 1868 when the Manchester and Salford Trades Council convened the founding meeting in the Manchester Mechanics' Institute. The fact that the TUC was formed by Northern Trades Councils was not coincidental. One of the issues which prompted this initiative was the perception that the London Trades Council which was formed in 1860 was taking a dominant a role in speaking for the Trade Union Movement as a whole. 

    In 1897 the Congress, took the decision to form a more centralised trade union structure that would enable a more militant approach to be taken to fighting the employer and even achieving the socialist transformation of society. The result was the General Federation of Trade Unions which was formed in 1899. For some years it was unclear which body (the GFTU or the TUC) would emerge as the national trade union centre for the UK and for a while both were recognised as such by different fraternal organisations in other countries. However, it was soon agreed amongst the major unions that the TUC should take the leading role and that this would be the central body of the organised Labour Movement in the UK.

    The sheet will be supplied in an informative packaging and protective sleeve and is priced at £15.95 from Royal Mail. (01/05) 

  • New Themed Smilers 

    News of two new themed Smilers sheets from various sources has reached us, all issued in the past few weeks.  

    The first is the latest offering from the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway  commemorating the 60th anniversary of the last day of the old company which occured on the 5th April 1958. That is 60 years to the day that the new FR Co reached Tan-y-Bwlch and opened a train service, after being closed for 10 years there were trees as large as a mans arm in the track! Please contact Robert Smallman if interested in either the Smilers sheet or cover.


    A limited edition souvenir cover was also produced using an unrelated postmark commemorating the 125th Anniversary of the Liverpool Overhead Railway. The organisers produced twenty full Smilers sheets, fourteen of which were available for sale as full sheets of twenty stamps/labels, one sheet went into archives and the remaining five sheets were or will be used on souvenir covers over the forthcoming year. 


    Finally, The Scottish Philatelic Society have recently concluded their Scottish Congress meet at The Dewer's Centre, Perth and a number of souvenirs were available including a themed Smilers sheet commemorating the 125th anniversary of Scottish Philately, which according to their website now appears to be sold out. 


    I am not aware of any souvenir covers produced although some may have been produced by private sources so keep an eye open on eBay should these emerge.  Post Note: A cover was produced by David Embray  (26/04)  

  • Change Detection

    Change Detection appears to have morphed into Visualping, so if you had requested notifications of changes to this page using Change Detection they may have ceased!  On first inspection Visualping does not appear to be as intuitive as Change Detection but it's not difficult to sign up for tracking this website.  To track changes to this web page visit Visualping and follow the on-screen instructions.  You can track changes to this web page once a day for free or less often if you prefer. Further instructions are provided at the top right of this page.  (26/04)  

  • Business Customised Sheets - A Brief History!

    Australia started it all nearly 20 years ago when they produced the world's first personalised stamp sheet to coincide with Australia '99 World Stamp Exhibition held in Melbourne, Australia between 19-24 March 1999. They adopted the brand name P-Stamps for "personalised stamps" which continue to be popular with the Australian public, judging by the frequency that Australia Post actively re-fresh their product. 

    Royal Mail sought to do something similar for the Stamp Show held at Earls Court, London between 11-22 May 2000. However, since Australia Post had copyrighted the brand name "personalised stamps" they had to find something different to call their personalised stamp sheets so they adapted the Smilers brand after the Smiler greeting stamps featured on the sheet and as a consequence, the brand name "Smilers" was borne out of necessity rather than design.

    Australia Post were also the first to recognise the potential of the product as marketing tool to promote commercial activities and in conjunction with the event organisers issued what is believed to the first Souvenir Event Sheet (SES sheet) in January 2000 to promote the Tamworth Music Festival. As well as selling sheets with a generic image of an Australia Post employee (Angela Thom) personalised versions were also available at the event.


    Nearly two years later, in December 2001, Royal Mail began experimenting with their so-called "Business Customised Sheets" a brand used by Royal Mail to differentiate them from the generic and personalised Smilers sheets but in all respects similar but  produced to order by a customer to promote a commercial event, service or product. The early sheets were also designed and produced by Royal Mail to promote their product and the best known of these was the pair of Eagle Coaches sheets.


    In 2002 a series of "Footie" sheets were produced by Benham Covers, which generated further interest in the product here in the UK but were in fact a direct copy of Australia Post's promotion of AFL and NRL teams in Australia from 2000.


    Since the first Royal Mail Business Customised sheet was issued in late 2001 there has been over 500 different stamp sheets produced by Royal Mail, the bulk of which were produced by the philatelic and collector market with very few produced in any great numbers. The one that perhaps stands out was a sheet issued in 2006 to promote the Fiat Grande Punto, European Car of the Year, 6000 sheets were produced and available as a stock item from Fiat dealers countrywide.

    Sadly there will be no more as Royal Mail have ceased production of this product line effective 31st March 2018. (24/04)

  • Themed Smiler Sheet from the BFPS 

    The British Philatelic Society (BFPS) has issued a new Smiler sheet to mark the 100th Anniversary of the RAF but curiously decided not to issue an accompanying souvenir cover.  The move is somewhat strange in that the Society predominately exists in the physical world as a collectible cover service based around a military theme and for some covers the people behind this not-for-profit venture produce Themed Smilers sheets and stamps to accompany these covers and special hand-stamp.  In this case I believe this is the first occasion in which a Smiler Sheet has been produced without the accompanying cover and special hand-stamp. 


    Available from 1st April 2018, I have a small quantity in stock and can supply these sheets for £47.50.00 to UK mainland incl. of p+p. Please e-mail me in t he first instance.  (11/04)

  • Rushstamp Celebration

    Spotted last month on eBay was a Themed Smilers sheet marketed by Rushstamps featuring the Grant Clan on the occasion of their Diamond Jubilee - 60 years in the business, an amazing achievement in this day and age. (11/04)



  • Up Helly Aa Fire Festival - 2018

    Up Helly Aa refers to any of a variety of fire festivals held in Shetland, in Scotland, annually in the middle of winter to mark the end of the Yule season. The festival involves a procession of up to a thousand guizers in Lerwick and considerably lower numbers in the more rural festivals, formed into squads who march through the town or village in a variety of themed costumes.

    Up Helly Aa is a tradition that originated in the 1880s. Since then the festival has been an annual occurrence in the Shetland calendar with few notable exceptions due to the advent of wars and the deaths of notable national figures.

    Since 2006 the festival organisers have issued an annual commemorative stamped cover bearing specially designed and commissioned Smilers stamps and labels with attractively designed labels celebrating the Up Helly Aa tradition. 

    This year was no exception and the following cover was issued following the event at the end of January 2018.  We have a small quantity of these in stock priced £7.50 + £1 p+p. Please drop me an e-mail if interested. (11/04)

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                                    Last updated: June 14, 2018